Those not chosen by the fairy Part 9
Lise turned over in her bed, her hand fumbling upwards to close the curtain against the sunrays that insisted on shining down on her face. A little more out of reach for what tried to wake her up she buried her face in the pillow with a small yawn.
A warm weight let out a protesting, sleepy whimper as she moved again and her legs bumped into it.
“’ry K’l,” the queen mumbled to the wolf pup, moving away a little.
She faintly wondered when he had come into her room, but was a little too groggy to really care.
Since she had returned to Rolante with Elliot, Kevin, Karl and Hawk as a guest a week ago she hadn’t done much more than sleeping. And showing people she was alive. To her it almost seemed like everyone had been more worried about her than Elliot.
The lucky kid…
Kevin had been sleeping quite a lot too, fully understandable.
And when they had begun to feel fully recovered the crowning ceremony turned out being ready and now the whole castle and big parts of Palo had to recover after the celebration.
Well, the world seemed to still be in place. What worried her and her friends a little was that they hadn’t heard anything from the spirits since Jinn had helped them get to safety as the Mana stones broke. But they hadn’t dared to call any of them either, in case the elementals had important matters to handle.
Lise’s stomach began to give her troubles, and after a few more minutes of lying down, arguing with herself, she got up and managed to get a hold of her morning coat.
That felt so much of a luxury after all her months of travel… not to mention taking a well deserved hot bath. Which she almost had fallen asleep in the first round, too.
She heard Karl bury himself in the warm blankets while she left the room, yawning and rubbing her eyes.
The castle was silent as she walked towards the kitchen areas, unlike it had been yesterday. Rolante had always taken crownings seriously and even more so now that they had been without anyone on the throne for a long while.
Lise smiled a little to herself, tiredly.
Ah well, she was queen now, then. Didn’t feel that much different… yet.
She grimaced a little and pushed the door to the kitchen open.
The head cook looked up from a cup of coffee as his sleepily dressed queen entered.
“Morning, miss,” he said, hiding a yawn behind a hand.
“Morning Peter,” Lise nodded, trying not to echo his movement.
“There’s some tea getting ready, you can probably take a cup now.”
Lise went over to one of the big cupboards and found one she deemed big enough. Then she walked over to the waiting teapot and poured the hot dark-golden liquid into the smaller holder.
“Well here I am, letting my queen work,” Peter commented, a bit sheepishly.
“It’s not that surprising, is it?” Lise mildly said.
“Nah, you’re right.”
Peter stood and started looking through one of the cooling pantries.
“Think that wolf of yours want some breakfast?”
“Which one of them?” Lise said with a warm chuckle.
“Both. Here we are…”
Peter produced a plate with quite a heap of bones on. They were pretty clean, but pieces of meat the queen knew a certain youngster would simply adore were still there.
“Got these after all the steaks yesterday,” the cook said with a smile, “send the pup down when you see him. Cute fellow.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll appreciate that,” Lise smiled, blowing on her tea to make it cool a little, “thanks.”
“You better watch him, miss, he’s so popular already that he might get horribly spoiled.”
“And Kevin?” slipped out of the queen before she could stop herself.
“You worry he won’t be accepted here or something?” he said with a chuckle, “I see straight through you, girl. You worry too much.”
“Yeah, so he tells me,” Lise agreed, and she couldn’t help but smile at it now.
“That’s good,” Peter said with a wink of his eye.
Lise idly drew a fingertip over the edge of her cup, watching the tea with a warm smile slowly forming on her lips.
“I think I’ll see if Kevin wants breakfast,” she said.
A short while later a door not too far from the royal chamber was pushed open by an elbow and Lise silently entered, smiling softly as she saw the half blood’s familiar form scrambled over the bed. He had pushed off the blanket in his sleep and only wore a pair of soft light-gray pants.
After closing the door Lise put the tray she had carried down on the small table in the middle of the room and went to carefully sit down on the bedside, turned to the inhabitant.
The scars on his back were quite visible in the morning light, but it didn’t bother her as much as it had done that night in Deen.
The vanadis smiled softly at the memory and reached out to caress Kevin’s reddish cheek.
He muttered something at the touch and opened a golden eye. His lips stretched in a smile, a bit drowsy of course.
“I brought you something to eat,” Lise softly announced, motioning at the table.
“Thanks,” he said and cleared his throat as his voice came out rather harsh.
Kevin yawned and stretched a little.
“Sleeping too much,” he said with a grimace.
“Complaining?” Lise gently asked.
At that he chuckled.
“Not good in long run,” he pointed out, but according to the smile he wasn’t too worried.
“We can always go and make the roads safer today if you want,” she said with a smile, then chuckled, “but I think the mere sight of us will get those chibidevils and harpies running for their lives.”
“You’re worried I’ll get bored,” he accused, turning over and sitting up with a knowing but soft look in his eyes.
Lise shook her head.
“Yeah, I do worry too much, I know. But I won’t have any breakdowns here, I hope.”
The smile wavered a bit at the last part and she sighed a little.
“You needed that,” Kevin gently said, his big hand covering her cheek, “you know it.”
She smiled again and pulled up her feet from the floor, stretching out on the mattress. Kevin still occupied the area that had been warmed by his body, but she touched the edges of it at least. Even more as he laid down and hugged her close.
“I do miss this from the journey,” Lise mumbled, “the rest I can live without.”
She shifted a little to be able to embrace him in return.
“Do you think Duran and the women made it?” she wondered.
“Yeah,” Kevin nodded, “but we’ll know soon, I’m sure.”
Not really worried about world chaos when resting with her fiancé and his simple reassurance Lise sighed softly.
She hated sleeping alone again, despite her fatigue she felt restless every night in her slumber. It wasn’t easy returning to sleep like she had been used to throughout her life; that was the main reason the recovery had taken so many days. Kevin was obviously not too happy about it either.
But that was something that just couldn’t be helped until they were married…
Lise closed her eyes.
She knew Kevin would be sixteen in just a couple of months, in three weeks she’d reach eighteen - the informal legal age of marriage in Rolante. It was sort of semi informal. A rule, just not official.
‘Well, we’ll have more time to… well, know we fit together,’ she tried to think, but it sounded idiotic even in her mind.
They had trained for at least a couple of years together in the Mana power. Even if there hadn’t been much feelings involved during that, those had been two years spent together and there could be no doubt in her in any case.
And if one dug into the moral it was definitely inevitable.
About that comment, do remember that this is a medieval type world and they’re not supposed to experience physical love outside of marriage.)
“What?” Kevin mumbled.
‘Oh well, we’re right here right now, at least…’ Lise gently thought, stretching her neck to touch his lips with hers.
A knock on the door cut off the tender move and the two almost jumped. Quickly exchanging glances Lise leaped up and hurried over to the table, putting the two teacups from the tray to wood and sat down while Kevin got up, calling:
The door opened and Martin peaked in.
“Morning Kevin… Your Majesty.”
He didn’t even blink, but Lise knew he always had been good at keeping a straight face. She hoped she didn’t blush.
It was so damn stupid! Having to feel ashamed for…
“Oh please, Martin,” she said, covering the situation up, “no Your Majesties, thanks.”
“Of course, miss,” the elder man said with a faint smile, “I came to ask Kevin if he had seen you, actually.”
“I have,” Kevin said with a small chuckle.
“So I see.”
Martin’s smile faded and he coughed.
“Well, miss… I came to fetch you since a lord something… I think it was a Sean or something from Forcena arrived to Palo yesterday and will come to the castle in a couple of hours.”
Pure panic overwhelmed Lise for a second as she got the picture.
“What?!” she said in disbelief, “I got crowned just yesterday for Jinn’s sake!”
Martin rolled his eyes with a grimace.
“A hasty, well-informed fellow, it seems,” he agreed.
Lise grunted and stood, rubbing her forehead.
“Alright, alright. I guess I better shape up and see him…” she muttered.
“Afraid so, but have breakfast first, you two. See you later, miss, Kevin.”
He got no reply and closed the door with a shake of his head.
The chair’s backrest creaked in Lise’s grip.
“Suitor,” she growled.
“Already?” Kevin snarled, and she could feel his mane bristle even if he was standing behind her.
Lise shook her head, still not looking around.
“You don’t have to come and watch…” she muttered, not wanting to put him through such frustration.
“Yes, I do,” the half blood gravely said, putting his hand on her shoulder.
The queen took the hand and lifted it to her cheek as she turned around with a dry smile.
“If you want to. But don’t hurt him too much, alright?”
Kevin grinned a bit.
Lise had a horrible time keeping her politely bored face neutral while the lord Sean went on about ensured trading routes. Incredible how he could go on and on about mainly that and nothing else for half an hour. Glancing aside she saw one of the guards standing but the stair encircling the throne’s platform battle a yawn, and the queen fully understood. It amazed her that no one had fallen to the ground, snoring, already.
The throne didn’t feel that comfortable either, despite the pillows that made it soft. It had nothing to do with the stuffing. It was the big chair itself; she didn’t feel like she belonged there.
Finally the lord finished his rant and his own rather groggy life guards straightened up.
“So, Your Majesty,” Sean said with a bow, “I hope that you will consider my proposal and its benefits.”
The queen blinked. It took her a moment to realize that he really was done.
‘Thank the goddess and all the spirits…’
“Your haste to court me is admirable,” she said, as politely as possible, “you must have very quick informants to get the news before everyone else. But still, I must turn your proposal down.”
“But Your Majesty!” he exclaimed, “at least consider it for a while!”
“I have already considered your proposal,” Lise calmly said, “yours and any one that is to come. I’m sorry that I did not send out word quicker than the news of my crowning; I am already engaged.”
“Can you not reconsider?” he asked, hardly able to hide the anger from the denial.
Lise shook her head.
“No, I cannot turn down the proposal which was offered to me weeks ago,” she mildly said and lifted her right hand.
Kevin stepped forward to her side on the signal, his face showing no emotion.
“Prince Kevin of the Beast Kingdom,” Lise gently said, “son of the Beast King himself. I’m afraid your trade routes, though surely beneficial, cannot outweigh an alliance with the Moonlight forest.”
Sean opened and closed his mouth a few times, and his guards were staring just the same. None of them believed what they heard.
“But, excuse me, Your Majesty, the beasts…” the lord finally managed.
Slowly Lise nodded.
“I am sadly aware of Astoria and Jad,” she said, “but as far as I know the beastmen are preparing to repay the damage they made under the control of an evil force bent on destruction. Surely you have not escaped the tales of the truth about Navarre?”
“You mean the demons, Your Majesty?” Sean said in disbelief.
“I see you do not believe in them. But I have battled them myself and I assure you they are most real.”
Silence. The lord opened his mouth again, but Kevin’s mane spread out like a dark, blood-red sun. Apart from that calm threat, he didn’t move a muscle.
The lord bowed.
“I see, Your Majesty. I bid you farewell, then.”
“Thank you for your visit,” Lise politely said.
But as the gate to the throne room finally closed behind the guests she flew up from the throne with a snarl.
“I can’t believe it! Oh!”
“That was stupid,” Kevin grunted, rubbing his neck with a sigh.
“May I have kitchen duty if any more of those come?” Sarah grimaced, and the other amazons profusely nodded.
“Are they all like that, Martin?” Lise groaned, turning to the elderly man.
To common disgust he sadly nodded.
“I’m afraid so, miss.”
Lise sighed and rubbed her forehead.
“Patrol, anyone?” she asked.
“Gladly,” Kevin growled, cracking his knuckles.
“Count me in!” the guarding amazons called, eager to get rid of some pent up frustration.
“And Martin, make sure somebody lets all of Palo know that I’m engaged, it might help a little,” Lise said before heading out of the throne room.
“Very well, miss!” the man called with a chuckle of empathy.
In the evening the queen had dinner in her room, together with her brother and the two most welcome guests in the castle. Had Hawk still been there he had also been invited, but he had left a couple of days after their homecoming to Rolante as he felt he was needed in Navarre. They still had to patch up any ninja that still could be found alive, and make sure the castle was abandoned. Considering what the demon, ghost and vampire had said it was hard to know. They might have given up the castle, or they could be trying to fortify it. In any case, if there were any battles Hawk wanted to help and he had told Kevin and Lise to “Get real, people, for the goddess’ sake!” when asking if he needed more support.
Still, his friends didn’t feel too comfortable of course, despite his resolution to make it with help from his clan mates.
Nothing to do about it, he had been stern as a rock.
Karl happily gnawed on a bone from the kitchen while the humans had a nice, thick meat soup and newly baked bread.
“I heard that suitor was a real pain!” Elliot grimaced, throwing Karl a piece of bread while he thought nobody watched.
Neither Kevin nor Lise bothered to scold him for spoiling the pup, either.
“Was irritating,” the half blood agreed with a snort, absentmindedly holding out his hand with a piece of his bread for the young wolf.
Lise just grunted something, stirring her soup.
“I saw him,” Elliot snorted, “there was no way that wimp would beat my sis, right Kevin?”
“Hm?” the half blood said one second before his mind clicked.
The water that had been in the warrior’s mouth for a moment flew back into the glass and that in turn almost crashed against the table. Violent coughs tore through Kevin’s body and the two royals had to hit his back repeatedly before he managed to get control again. Karl whimpered and nudged at his friend with his paw, seeing the normally dark knuckles turn white over the table’s edge.
“What did I say?” the small prince worriedly asked, confused.
“It’s not your fault,” Lise said with a hint of guilt in her voice, “I believe you just reminded him of something.”
She looked at Kevin as he turned his head with a grimace while rubbing his neck.
“I thought so,” she mumbled, “but I didn’t want to bring it up.”
“I’m not doing that!” Kevin coughed, resolutely shaking his head.
“It’s just a tradition, not a real battle,” the queen tried to calm him, “we won’t really fight.”
The half blood beastman shook his head, clenching his teeth.
“Fight demons, vampires, Rakadra, monsters, all,” he almost growled, “but not you!”
Lise gently, almost tentatively caught a hold of his hands.
“Do you think I like it anymore than you do?”
‘Though he’s much more furious about it,’ she thought to herself with an inner grimace.
The thought of the Challenge of the Queen hadn’t really been a bother to her before, but she had expected such a reaction from Kevin.
He was a dear…
But this felt rather horrible.
“It’s a while until the wedding anyway,” she said and tried to swallow away the foul taste the words left in her mouth, “you don’t have to worry about it yet.”
Kevin grunted but forced his anger back into the depths of his mind, sighing to signal that he was calmer.
“Sorry I got mad,” he muttered, “but I can’t.”
“Come on, Kev!” Elliot said, hugging his arm carefully, “it’s part of the wedding ceremony, it’s important!”
The teenager of the males shook his head, frowning. Lise carefully touched his cheek.
“Kevin,” she gently said, “can’t you control your strength? I am not worried about that. All you need to do is to get me down on the floor, and is it possible for you to harm me in that process if I’m not fighting back?”
The half blood sighed again, reluctantly shaking his head.
“I guess,” he grunted, “but I…”
He fell silent and grimaced. Lise slowly nodded.
“Don’t think about it now, alright?” she said, “we can talk about it later.”
Later came after dinner, when Elliot and Karl fell asleep together on the thick, fine harpy fur rug in front of the unlit fireplace. Lise absentmindedly stroke her brother’s hair while Kevin sat beside her.
“I just can’t,” he grunted after a drawn silence, “being stubborn, fine. I’m afraid to hurt you.”
Lise sighed a bit. She had almost been able to shake it off.
“We’ll think of something…” she mumbled, leaning at him.
Kevin didn’t really feel like arguing about it, and wrapped his arms around Lise’s armored shoulders as he tried to get his mind off things.
They sat for a while in silence, until a snort Karl made in his sleep got them the idea to carry the two sleepers to Elliot’s room.
Being strong enough to carry much bigger things too, Lise scooped up her brother before Kevin could do so in his usual thoughtfulness. She felt he really deserved an easier time after the headache he had to go through about the future.
It was a short walk and soon Kevin carefully placed Karl on the blanket, beside the sleeping prince. His big hand lightly brushed the blond hair and Elliot smiled in his sleep.
“They are much alike,” the half blood mumbled in a low voice while he and Lise silently left the room.
She muffled the soft chuckle to a smile and nodded.
“Yeah, they really are…”
They looked up as an amazon came hurrying down the corridor.
“What is it, Maria?” Lise said, making a hushing movement while glancing at the door to warn the other woman about the sleepers.
“Duran, Angela and Carlie just arrived!” Maria hissed excitedly.
As silently as they could and still running, Lise and Kevin followed the amazon to the throne room.
“Hey!” Duran shouted with a wide grin upon seeing the queen, “castle’s looking good!”
All three of them looked just like Lise remembered them… well, maybe… there was something more grown up about their eyes, the way they moved.
“Thanks, we try,” Lise chuckled and allowed him a quick hug, which she also gave to Angela.
She did catch the faint glimmer in the princess’ eyes as the male Mana warrior was touched, and was therefore careful. Carlie, on the other hand, would have nothing less than a big, tight hug. Lise smiled as the short but strong arms encircled her neck, and the queen easily lifted the little one from the floor.
“You look familiar…” Angela thoughtfully said, eying Kevin.
“Was dark, you might not remember,” he said, a bit embarrassed.
He did catch a scent of vague hostility in Duran’s smell as Angela’s eyes went over the bare arms and what could be seen of the dark chest. But it was so faint that Kevin wondered if the swordsman even knew what he felt. Yet.
“By Moonreading tower,” the half blood continued as it didn’t seem to ring a bell, “I attacked Death Jester.”
“That was you?” Duran asked, “yeah, now that you mention it…”
“Thanks,” Kevin smiled, then turned to Lise as he was beginning to worry about coming in between the suppressed feelings he felt from the two older heroes.
“What brings you here?” the queen carefully asked, still holding the happy Carlie.
“We’re patching things up,” Duran explained, “need to inform people about what’s going on.”
“Did you win?” Lise asked with growing relief.
Duran coughed and rubbed his helmet with a rather goofy expression that made the queen, half blood and present amazons hearts sink.
“Yeah, we beat the Dragon Emperor,” Angela said fairly quickly, “but, you see…”
She trailed off and looked away.
“Lucky we had a fairy,” Carlie squeaked, “the Mana tree went boom!”
Hadn’t Kevin reacted quickly, the blond child from Wendel had hit the floor. But the half blood’s arms shot forward and supported Lise’s grip, though he almost dropped by the shock as well.
“But it’s alright!” Duran quickly said, “the fairy… well, turned into a seedling, and there’ll be a new Mana tree.”
“But it’ll take a few hundred years…” Angela said in a dull voice, glaring at the floor.
It took a few moments to digest this.
“What about the elementals?” Kevin finally managed to ask.
“We’ll go into hibernating,” Jinn’s voice said from above.
He got full attention and calmingly smiled.
“Don’t worry, people,” he continued, “even if we won’t be able to do much for a while we’ll be watching you at least. I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner, we all had a lot to take care of.”
“I understand…” Lise mumbled.
“But we’re saving our strength for the weddings so that we can show up then,” he said with a wink.
This caused Carlie - if a bit unsure about who was going to marry -, Kevin and the Rolante population to smile, while Duran and Angela just wondered whether there had been an s at the end of “wedding” or not.
“We appreciate it,” Lise warmly said.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Jinn said with a chuckle, “well, as for now I can’t stay long, so see you later.”
And with that, he floated out of vision.
“What wedding?” Angela asked, intrigued.
“Mine and Kevin’s,” Lise gently replied, letting Carlie latch on to the beastman.
The princess gave a huge smile.
“Now this I wanna hear,” she stated.
“We’d like to hear about what you’ve been doing too,” Lise said and motioned at the door, “want some tea?”
Carlie soon drifted off to sleep, but the other warriors exchanged stories until it was past midnight.
“Kevin, Kevin, Kevin!”
There are more pleasant ways to be awoken than having a wolf land on your back.
“I’m awake, awake!” the half blood grunted, rubbing his eyes.
It had been too late last night with the storytelling, his day rhythm had just returned to normal and now his head felt like a stone.
“You have to come!” Elliot shouted, jumping up and down fully dressed.
“What time is it?”
“It’s ten o’clock and sis is having another suitor! You have to come, she didn’t want to wake you up for it!”
Kevin growled and tumbled out of bed, grabbing his shirt on the way, suddenly wide awake.
His disgust about having to listen to another well-dressed lowlife was faintly outweighed by his refusal to let Lise carry the torment alone. And he wouldn’t be absent when somebody tried to court his love.
Something in the back of his mind clicked and he forced himself to slow down and take a few deep breaths to regain his composure.
‘Beastman genes…?’ he grunted in his mind, trying to excuse himself the rage.
Putting on the shirt properly he hurried towards the throne room together with Elliot and Karl.
But just as they approached the door leading there, Lise stomped through reminding more of a storm cloud than a warrior queen.
She looked up and tried to swallow the frustration upon seeing the three.
“You shouldn’t have…” she began but trailed off, shaking her head.
Kevin sighed and resolutely mirrored her movements.
“Don’t have to spare me,” he said and managed to grin a bit to cheer them both up a bit, “at least I can scare them.”
It took a moment, but Lise chuckled in the end.
“Alright, I will tell you next time.”
But she grimaced a bit at the last two words.
“Who was it?” Elliot asked without trying to hide his resentment.
“Someone whatever from Palo who wouldn’t get the message. Got up here as quickly as he possibly could without falling off the mountain it seems.”
“You’ve been crowned for two days and have had just as many suitors? That’s just… must be a record or something!”
Angela came up the corridor behind Kevin’s lil’ group.
“I’ve had a few of those too,” she said, “disgusting, aren’t they?”
“And irritating,” Lise agreed.
“And longwinded as hell.”
“And up so early in the morning!”
The women looked at each other and the whole gang laughed. Except for Karl, but you know… wolves laugh silently.
“For the goddess’ sake,” Angela said after a few moments, “you say you’re engaged and they don’t care? Sheez! Now I’m not saying those morons back in Altena are any better, but this isn’t right.”
The princess was waving rather violently with her arms by now.
“Get married people!” she finished.
Kevin and Lise exchanged glances and then looked at Angela, rising their hands in helplessness.
“We’re still too young,” the queen said, “that’s the problem.”
“Ah now… when will you turn eighteen?” Angela demanded.
“In a little less than a month, but Kevin…”
As he got the attention he shook his head.
“I’ll be sixteen soon,” he said.
“But you’ve classchanged, haven’t you?” Angela pointed out.
Lise had to smile at the good will.
“Thanks for your concern, Angela, but I don’t think that’ll be regarded as vital by those who haven’t done it.”
The Altenan princess didn’t even listen to the end of the speech before turning to Kevin.
“When do beastmen marry?” she inquired.
He rubbed his neck for a moment.
“No real law,” he said, “when feel ready.”
“Well, have you let the kingdom know how old you are?”
She eyed him from top to bottom like she had done the previous night.
“I’d never believe you were less than eighteen, Kev,” she honestly said.
Before anyone else had time to think of something to say she had snatched a hand each from the couple and brought them together.
“You have insanely big hands, Kev… anyway, you’re dying to marry. Don’t speak against me. Just do it. On your royal birthday. It’s an order. From a legendary hero. You have no choice. So ha!”
She resolutely nodded, then cocked her head, waiting.
Lise and Kevin looked at Angela and then at each other.
“Glad you could come.”
“I wouldn’t miss this,” was the rather matter-of-factly reply, but there was a warmth in the voice, albeit hard to recognize, “where’s Kevin?”
“He’s on his way,” Lise smiled, glancing around at all the birds landing just outside the castle.
The winds weren’t less tricky, but they had all shown up guided by a certain white dragon. One or two spirits had most certainly helped.
“You’re worried about something,” the main guest stated.
Lise rubbed her neck. She had stopped trying to fight the moves she got from Kevin. He had begun to rub his forehead like she did now and then, as well.
“We have one problem,” she admitted.
“And that is?”
“We have this tradition called the Challenge of the Queen,” Lise said, “I can’t talk Kevin into doing it.”
“Prove he can beat me in battle…”
Lise almost bit her tongue off when she realized what she was saying to whom.
“Is that so?” Beast King calmly said.
“… And if it takes more than five seconds and one single bruise we’ll recap your training! From scratch!”
“That’s better,” Beast King said in a calmer voice and finally put Kevin down again.
He had at least been kind enough to wait until Lise wasn’t present before he had a talk with his son about the tradition. Elliot, Hawk and Martin were rather wide-eyed however.
“I… guess I better inform the queen that you will do it then…” the latter mumbled and left the room to find Lise.
She had been called by Eliza to make a final check on the ceremonial wedding armor the warrior women used. Martin himself found that strange since they should have fixed that already, it was only half an hour until the ceremonies should start… what kind of time was that to try out the clothes?
Kevin heavily sat down on a chair, absentmindedly stroking Karl’s fur as the pup placed his head in his friend’s lap.
“So you fight, then you go change into more proper clothes for the occasion as I got it?” Hawk said, trying to make conversation.
“Yeah,” Elliot said, giving Beast King another nervous glance, “that’s it. Normally they have a training fight to test the suitor before the wedding day too, but… well yeah.”
The bridegroom didn’t even seem to listen. He wore his normal clothes, or rather a new set of them he had gotten when coming to Rolante.
They were all caught in the final minutes of just waiting for something big to start, and those are hard to make use of.
Not too far away Martin opened the door to the royal chamber.
“Miss, I just needed to tell… you…”
His voice trailed off and he blinked. Lise smiled nervously.
“Oops,” Eliza softly stated.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” Jessica warmly asked.
Martin blinked. And blinked. Finally he found his voice again.
“It’s fantastic,” he softly said, earning the three women’s smiles, “well miss, I just came to tell you that Kevin’s father… hrm… talked him into going through with the Challenge after all.”
“I’ll have to ask Kevin to forgive me,” she mumbled, “I shouldn’t have told Beast King…”
“Oh shut it,” Eliza said, “it’s needed and you know it. People are already shocked about that you marry a beastman and even more over that the whole Beast Kingdom is visiting. The tradition should calm them a little, it shows that our new allies are agreeing to our rules.”
“I guess you’re right…”
Lise glanced at herself in the mirror that had been brought into her room just for this occasion. Normally mirrors were banned from bedrooms in Rolante due to another old tradition.
The queen pushed an imagined strand of hair from her face and gulped. The wedding nerves were really setting in…
“Well, now that we knows it fits perfectly, better get it off and into your armor,” Eliza helpfully instructed as she saw her leader lost in thought.
“I will see you later then,” Martin warmly smiled and closed the door as he left.
Lise had just gotten into her everyday armor when there was another knock on the door and a small face peeked in, encircled by dark golden locks. And a pink hat with bells.
“Hi Carlie,” Lise said with a gentle smile.
She got a wide, happy grin in return and the kid sneaked in. It was then revealed that she carried a bouquet of big, clock formed flowers. They seemed to glow faintly, almost as if they were made by moonlight.
“Carlie got them from fairy grandfather!” she happily said and offered the gift to Lise.
She carefully accepted the flowers; they seemed so delicate that she was afraid they’d break at the touch.
They were glowing.
“They shine more at night!” the child happily said, “nice, huh?”
Lise looked down at the cute little girl.
“They’re wonderful,” she warmly said, “thanks Carlie. And tell your grandfather so, too.”
“Carlie will do that, yup-yup!”
And with that she hurried off again. Jessica carefully touched the petals.
“These are beautiful…” the desert princess mumbled.
“They really are,” Eliza agreed, coming over with a vase.
Where had she gotten that from anyway…?
Lise just tried to get her nerves back in order.
“Speaking of flowers, how is the desert?” she asked Jessica.
Hawk’s love smiled with pride.
“We’re doing better than we could have hoped for,” she said, “the planting of new trees is coming along great. Getting ice blocks for water from Altena is actually working.”
“Well, they’ve got a few blocks to spare…”
Jessica tilted her head, smiling.
“You’ll do fine out there,” she said, understanding.
“I hope so…” Lise said with a nervous smile.
A few minutes later she hurried to the throne room through a side door, flanked by eight amazons in ornamented armor. Those armors were for special occasions, though a tad bit simpler than the one meant for wedding…
Lise pushed the thoughts aside as the nine women came into the throne room. She went over to the throne and sat down, trying to focus on her breathing to calm down. She was way too nervous.
Elliot came through the other side door and gave his sister a big smile as he placed himself on the left side of the throne. He wore his typical Rolante green clothes, but these had white and golden embroideries.
“Ready?” Eliza gently asked, waiting for her queen to nod before she hurried down to the gates together with Merci.
Lise had wanted Valeya - the amazon who had fought together with the queen and Hawk as they retook Rolante – to be among the amazons standing “guard” behind and beside her during the ceremony, but that warrior still hadn’t fully recovered from her wounds from the battle against Bill and Ben, sadly.
The gates opened and guests began to stream in, placing themselves so that the long carpet up to the throne was left untouched. Most of the humans tried to keep a distance to the male beastmen. There were women from the same people there too, but Lise had with a bit of surprise noted that female beasts didn’t have any fur and looked just like human women. Well, they were definitely a bit more muscled, but otherwise you couldn’t really see any difference.
Lise recognized a few of her suitors in the crowd, they looked rather sour all of them. Oh yes, they had kept coming. Even more so when the wedding had been announced.
There were Duran and king Richard… Angela and her mother…
‘This is simply unbelievable…’ Lise reflected over the guests.
Some people from Navarre were also there, but it was obvious that they didn’t feel quite comfortable being in the castle they had hurt so badly. Only Hawk, Jessica, the Kahn and Nikita seemed fully relaxed.
Carlie was there somewhere… probably over there with the Priest of Light, who stood beside a young Light priest with almost white hair.
The whole world came to Rolante, after the many battles the humans had suffered. Lise silently prayed no fighting would occur with all the fights still fresh in people’s memory.
Finally the stream of guests ceased and the gates were closed. Merci and Eliza stayed put down there, however. For a few moments there was a murmur from the crowd due to whispered conversations, but they all ceased as Lise stood.
“I thank you all for coming,” she said, surprising herself with her warm, steady voice, “it is truly amazing that you all, people from all over the world, has come here today. Allow me to propose a meeting between all leaders here tomorrow.”
An agreeing mumble was heard. Lise caught Beast King’s eyes and she thought that she saw him smile a little, even. She widened her own smile a bit and then let her gaze sweep over the crowd again.
“As for today, this marks not only a new peaceful era for Rolante, but also one for the Beast Kingdom. I am aware of some people’s bitterness against the beasts, but know now that Rolante will from this day on be allied with the Moonlight forest and the amazons will support the inhabitants of Luna’s land if they should need our aid in any way.”
She caught Beast King’s eye again, almost expecting to see an amused glistening at the idea that the beastmen would need help of humans. But the smile was more definite this time instead.
He was obviously in a mood for surprising.
“Following our tradition with the Challenge of the Queen,” Lise continued and held back a wish to wince as she thought of Kevin’s reluctance again, “prince Kevin of the Beast Kingdom will have to challenge me in battle to prove his worth before he can become king of Rolante.”
At this, suppressed laughter could be heard from the beastman population of the room. Despite her worry for her fiancé Lise could hardly stop herself from smirking at what she was saying.
Eliza and Merci once again opened the gate and flanked Kevin as he silently entered and continued up the carpet. For once he was walking straight, even if it doubtlessly took quite a bit of will and strain not to crouch like his spine was born to do.
He looked calmer than Lise had feared. She walked down the short stair to the floor, into the open area between the aisle and the throne’s platform.
Kevin met Lise’s eyes as she carefully smiled and moved into a defensive stance. The look on her face made him feel a little better, though he felt as if he was going to pieces of anxiousness.
The two amazons that had followed him moved away.
“Begin!” Eliza announced.
Fine, let’s get this over with.
One, two, three… and wham.
Lise’s eyes twinkled with held back laughter as she found herself on the floor with Kevin’s elbow against her chest and his other hand under her head.
“And prince Kevin is victorious,” Eliza mildly commented.
It took a moment for most guests to digest what had happened. Then the cheering started.
“Four seconds,” Beast King commented though nobody listened to him, “he was careful.”
“Wasn’t so bad, was it?” Lise whispered.
“I guess…” Kevin mumbled back, “fine?”
“Not a scratch,” she warmly said in a low voice, caressing his cheek.
Then he smiled and stood, helping her get up in the process.
A bluish light surrounded the two and as it faded Lise found Kevin’s clothes being completely white with golden lining and with silver embroideries of the moon and trees. He didn’t seem surprised at all, glancing upwards as whispers filled the room again. Lise followed his gaze. Jinn smiled down at her, surrounded by the seven other spirits who mostly did just the same. Except for a dark bat creature holding an eerie eye in its claws, obviously Shade. But he lacked a mouth and the eye seemed like it was constantly looking indifferent.
Luna’s wink explained who was guilty of Kevin’s change of clothes.
The queen of Rolante warmly smiled at the spirits for a moment, before she looked back at her bridegroom.
“I’ll get to change manually, it seems,” she said in a low voice before letting go of him.
Eliza took over again, together with Merci bringing Lise down the aisle.
Kevin was saved from standing alone and awkward by the same that had redressed him.
“And you have our blessings,” Luna softly said, floating down to his eyelevel.
“Thanks,” Kevin smiled.
“But you forgot something, Luna,” Beast King’s voice said, surprisingly gentle.
Kevin turned to his father, who swept his arms around in a storm of crimson. Thick, but not heavy cloth weighed down on the young half blood’s shoulders, and with a low clicking sound the golden buckle on the chain keeping the cloth in place closed. The cloak looked very much like the one Beast King wore.
“I thought you could use something in our colors and not only this green,” the older beastman said.
“Thank you, father,” Kevin replied, the edges of his lips twitching.
The beastman’s face hardly changed, but not even he could hide the way he smelled.
Meanwhile three women rushed towards the royal chamber, the long way.
The spirits surely had meant well, but Lise couldn’t help but feel a bit stressed about keeping Kevin waiting for her. Had he at least had his own redressing to tend to he wouldn’t have to…
But Luna had gotten him into the clothes he should have worn anyway. Though she had added the embroideries.
Eliza, Merci and Lise dove into the latter’s room, there trying to catch their breath.
“I think he’ll be alright for a while,” the amazon captain stated as she went over to the waiting piece of clothing where it hung on a coat hanger from the edge of the wardrobe.
The queen fumbled with the laces of her armor, after what felt like an eternity only wearing a silk version of her tunic. It had spared time to wear that all the while. Merci dumped the armor in the wardrobe and Eliza held up the new clothes for her leader. Without any real thought in her head she just held her hair aside while her captain worked the buttons on her back.
“Your tiara,” Merci helpfully said.
Almost zombie alike Lise nodded and pulled the green accessory off her head.
“Get me the flowers, thanks,” Eliza gently said, and the other amazon nodded.
But as soon as the captain reached out for the small, white mountain roses Merci offered her they glistened and swept into Lise’s hair, neatly placing themselves in a perfect row across the top of her head.
The faint surprise was soon quelled.
“Didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you?” Jinn said with a wink, floating in the middle of the room.
“Thanks for the help,” Lise managed to mumble, absentmindedly and nervously glancing at herself in the mirror again.
She bit her lower lip.
“The final piece,” Merci gently said, holding up what seemed to be two pieces of frozen mist, “hold still.”
“What are they made of?” Lise asked, halfway back in the real world again.
“Secret of the seamstress,” Eliza shrugged, the tip of her tongue sticking out as she tried to hold the thin, stretched cloth in place while Merci nimbly secured the ribbons around Lise’s shoulders.
“Finished,” the amazon proudly stated and moved back to get the national treasure that was leaning against the wall.
It had been kept in Rolante for generations, through wonder the ninja’s hadn’t found it… through wonder or the hidden door in the throne room behind which it was stored.
Lise accepted the crystal pole with a weak smile. She was getting fastened in reality again, quickly. The whirlwind in her mind was quite unstructured.
“You’ve forgotten something,” Wisp’s familiar voice softly said.
He floated into existence beside the smiling Jinn.
“I can’t think of anything…” Eliza protested, frowning as she tried to think of whatever the spirit meant.
“It’s not your fault,” Wisp said, smiling.
He turned to the wardrobe, and from the drawer inside a golden chain floated, stopping in the air before Lise.
“I can’t wear that,” she said and shook her head, “it’s not…”
“It’s yours,” Wisp kindly but resolutely said.
The clip on the Briesingamen opened and the necklace snaked itself around the queen’s neck.
“Now you’re done,” Wisp smiled.
He and Jinn disappeared again, sharing a soft expression.
Lise took in a deep breath to calm down. She exchanged glances with her two friends, and they nodded encouragement.
The queen smiled.
The throne room turned completely silent as the gates suddenly cracked open. The few people that had been talking to Kevin, including Hawk, Duran, Angela and Carlie, hurriedly retook their places. Karl also returned to sitting silently beside Beast King.
Kevin tried not to bite his tongue. He didn’t mind everybody watching him anymore, but still felt nervous.
‘It’s just Lise!’ he tried to tell himself, to no avail.
Waiting hadn’t been pleasant, despite his friends and father’s attempts to keep him company. But now it would soon be over, finally.
Merci and Eliza pushed the gate open with ease, then positioned themselves with their backs against the two pieces of the double doors. Soft thumps were heard from all over the throne room as every amazon slammed their right fist into their armored chest to greet their queen and general.
Again the watching spirits added to the effect.
Jinn and Luna left their place above the throne and swept down the hall. Stopping above the open, waiting portal they spread their arms and wings, sending a waterfall of softly blue-green and silvery light over the entrance. The light spread over the floor like liquid, flowing the room with over-worldly colors. Some guests tried to move aside in surprise, but soon realized that the only thing that the sea gave them was a vague, pleasant warmth.
The waterfall split as Lise stepped through it, careful not to trample on her skirt.
The guests blinked. The amazons blinked. Elliot blinked. Kevin blinked. The spirits softly smiled.
In her hands a crystal spear rested. Golden threads snaked around it until they flowed into the almost glowing point. But the rest of her wasn’t anything amazon alike.
That wasn’t the ceremonial armor.
The Briesingamen’s tiny jewels sparkled against the warmly sun burnt skin and the silken, cream colored cloth. The dress was rather simple, slick against Lise’s body and upper arms, but by her elbows and waist it flowed out like water. But the fact that it was free of flounces didn’t make it less beautiful on her, didn’t make her less stunning. Small, white roses almost formed an aureole in her golden hair. That effect was added by the transparent wings on her back, seemingly made of sun rays.
Kevin hardly dared to take her hand as she moved up to him and took the spear in her left hand, reaching out with the other. He was almost afraid she’d flutter away like a dream if he disturbed her appearance. But she stood firm at his touch, and he carefully put his other hand over Lise’s much smaller, almost as an insurance.
She smiled gently and spoke without taking her eyes away from Kevin’s gaze:
“As the queen of Rolante I accept prince Kevin of the Beast Kingdom as my husband, hereby ruler by my side. If anyone feels more worthy of my love…”
At this she even let her gaze run over the crowd with a hint of mischief.
“… I believe the appropriate way of proving that would be to challenge him.”
There was a short moment’s silence, then hardly suppressed chuckles and snorts could be heard from most parts of the room. Kevin gave a small grin before he too spoke, and all fell politely silent though still smiling widely in some cases.
“I will forever do everything I can to help you, Lise,” he warmly said, then added with a tone similar to hers, “and I’ll throw anyone trying to tear us apart down the mountain.”
Lise forced back a chuckle and hung her right arm around his neck as he pulled her into his embrace, and they kissed to the sound of cheers mixed with amused laughter at the threats.
And above them the spirits gently smiled before vanishing in a rain of their corresponding colors.
“We’ll be watching over you…”
As is appropriate at every occasion with many guests, a feast was held. The problem was the castle’s lack of big rooms, so the Great corridor was used as it had proven worthy for the job before; the doors hidden behind green curtains and flowers. No one complained as it was well done.
“Well, we’ve found it best that you’d keep this safe,” Duran said while most guests were still finding themselves somewhere to sit.
Lise took the small children’s toy drum as the hero offered her it.
“Are you sure, Duran?” she asked.
“Yeah, it belongs here,” he said with a smile, “Flammie is your national guardian after all.”
“Thank you, then,” the queen smiled.
Duran stumbled off dragged by a smiling Angela, before Kevin even had time to say anything to the warrior.
“You’re sitting beside me, I’ve been bored out of my mind all these weeks!” she stated before getting out of reach for the ear.
Lise put the drum carefully on the table beside her glass.
“Duran’s not getting away,” Kevin muttered in a low voice, smiling.
“So I see…”
The queen chuckled. Their hands sneaked at each other below the table.
“You looked great back there, I was about to fall apart of tension,” she mumbled with a low laugh.
“Gah… was no better.”
They exchanged glances and chuckled.
“Hey Kev,” Elliot interrupted, looking past his sister, “Angela was wondering what your cloak was made of. She said she didn’t know the material.”
“It’s made by the beastmen’s own fur and dyed in the blood of our enemies,” Beast King said before Kevin even could open his mouth, completely grave.
For a moment things was quiet around the royal table, until Kevin couldn’t fight back his snicker any longer.
“Fine,” Beast King said, almost gentler, “it’s dyed with the fire blooms in the Moonlight forest.”
“Phew…” Elliot mumbled.
Lise just chuckled, even if she’d been hesitant about whether it was a joke or not as well.
The dishes were finally brought in, a mix of meat and fish so everyone could pick whatever they wanted. There were, needless to say, more meat than fish being readied due to a big part of the guests.
Even though it was a very special day night fell eventually. As dusk began to envelope the outside world and candles quickly were lit on the tables, Beast King stood.
“We better take our leave for tonight, then,” he announced, causing every full blood beastman and woman to stand, “Luna’s peace, Kevin, Lise.”
“Luna’s peace, father,” the new king of Rolante replied, smiling even if it wasn’t fully visibly returned.
“Jinn’s protection, Beast King,” Lise agreed.
He almost smiled and then led his people out of the castle.
As the moons rose above the mountain tops, a mighty choir of howls filled the night winds. They echoed throughout every stone, calling out to the zombies and chibi devils that it might be wise to stay in hiding this night.
Lise smiled towards the window of the royal chamber, working on the last ribbon on her wings. The chair she had been sitting on during the dinner hadn’t had a very high backrest as the dress and its accessory had been –secretly- planned for a while.
“No need for patrolling for a few days,” Kevin mildly commented, carefully holding the wings so that they wouldn’t fall to the floor when Lise succeeded in setting them free.
“There goes half the training program,” she chuckled, “will have to think of something else. Tomorrow.”
Kevin put the wings on a chair and stood watching her for a moment. Lise smiled.
“Ceremonial armor?” he pointed out with a smile, letting her pull him into an embrace.
“It just didn’t feel right all of a sudden,” Lise mumbled, leaning her cheek on his shoulder.
A slight, familiar coolness suddenly stroke the insides of Lise’s stomach, leaving as soon as it had come.
‘I guess I better dispel that now, as you’ll want heirs I suppose?’ Wisp’s voice gently said in her head.
She sent him a warm, thought smile.
‘Thanks for everything.’
‘The same to you. Be well, my friends.’
And then he was gone.
Lise smiled up at Kevin, watching his golden crystal eyes that no longer carried even a hint of the grief that once had been inside of him.
He bent his neck and they kissed in the faint light of candles, moonlight and the enchanted flowers from the elf forest.